19.01.21 Communication with children – virtual platforms

The RFU recognises that Clubs have been looking at ways they can stay in touch with their members and teams. Many are using virtual platforms which were designed for business, not children. Therefore there are potential inherent risks. By applying some existing and new guidance to these ways of engaging players some risks may be mitigated.

Please note that once lockdown and social distancing measures are reduced further then this type of communication will be discouraged.  

There have been significant issues with the Zoom platform and Zoom Bombings. Please see https://thecpsu.org.uk/news/2020-05-nspcc-warns-of-zoom-security-risks/

The RFU recommend when engaging with children using these platforms whether in delivering a coaching session or an informal gathering such as quiz night or team meeting the below:

  • No one to one communication must take place including messaging once in a group call.
  • Consider the platform being used. Are privacy and confidential settings appropriate – i.e. password and waiting rooms? Meetings ID’s and passwords must not be shared on public and open social media.
  • Parental awareness of what you intend to do is critical along with consent.
  • All participants are aware of a code of conduct during the meeting including appropriate dress and the location of where they are participating from e.g. a bedroom would not be appropriate.  
  • The ‘ host ‘ of the call has control of the meeting including muting/ unmuting , screen and file sharing and  waiting room, where only participants known to the host are allowed to enter.  
  • More than one coach or person in a position of trust taking part so not communicating with children in isolation. Club Safeguarding Officer to be made aware of the meeting and be provided with meeting ID and password.  
  • If a Zoom Bombing incident or similar should occur consider how this will be dealt e.g. host shutting down meeting, report to police if indecent graphic images are shared by the ‘Bomber’.
  • Any disclosures or areas of concern that are you become aware of during these sessions should be dealt with as normal with a CSO and RFU Safeguarding Policy followed.

If online coaching occurs then the above applies in addition:

  • No one to one coaching.
  • Coaches are suitability qualified.
  • Clubs have untaken a safer recruitment process with the coach including DBS clearance through the RFU.  
  • More than one coach so not working in isolation with children. 
  • The RFU expect the same standards of planning, risk assessment, adherence to laws of the game and coaching safe practice as a face to face session.  
  • Coaches must be providing guidance with the overall RFU instructions and work with the participant’s needs and capabilities.

Whilst clubs may consider that the recording of a meeting or coaching session may mitigate risk it should be considered whether this is necessary when other measures will be in place. Recording means that personal data (image) is captured and GDPR must be complied with in relation to storage and retention and deletion. If a meeting or coaching session is to be recorded participants / parents will need to be informed prior to the session so they can redraw if necessary.  

The RFU do not recommend the use of Messenger Meeting Rooms for children due to lack of appropriate settings.  

The Child Protection in Sport Unit (CPSU) have some further advice https://thecpsu.org.uk/resource-library/best-practice/remote-teaching-and-coaching/